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Just Being Honest — Presidents Day Airport Travel Expected to Top Last Year

Heavy traffic and delays expected on drives during peak travel
February 15, 2018

On the heels of announcing a seventh consecutive record year, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport expects to welcome more than 650,000 travelers through the airport over the Presidents Day Weekend. From Thursday, February 15 to Monday, February 19, traffic through the airport is anticipated to be about five percent higher than the same five-day period last year.

With increased number of travelers, the Port forecasts heavy congestion on the roads leading to the airport. Drivers arriving, picking up or dropping off passengers during peak periods should plan an extra 15-20 minutes of travel time or use alternative routes.

Peak traffic congestion occurs on the Departure level from approximately 4:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.  During the middle of the day, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., both Arrival and Departure drives experience backups.  In the evenings, the Arrivals drive experiences heavy traffic from about 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. 

Port of Seattle Police officers will patrol the Airport Expressway to prevent motorists from parking on the shoulder, and Traffic Support Specialists will be deployed on the Arrivals and Departure drives to assist with traffic flow. The Port is planning to hire additional Traffic Support Specialists in the coming months to prepare for the upcoming summer travel season.

Traffic Pro Tips:

  • Take Link Light Rail, a bus or shuttle to the airportPublic transportation is by far the best option if you want to stay out of a traffic jam. Use Link Light Rail to travel the last mile to the airport or meet your party a few stops to save traffic headaches.
  • In the morning, drop off passengers on the Arrivals level. In the evenings, arrange to meet your passengers on the Departures level. Going opposite gets you out of the traffic crunch.
  • Come from the south end: Motorists coming from north of the airport can avoid the heaviest traffic by accessing the airport from alternate routes
  • Park and walk: Park at the Sea-Tac Airport garage and walk into the terminal.

Travelers are encouraged to leave plenty of time to get to the airport, check in for their flight, and clear security. Plan on arriving at the airport at least two hours in advance for a domestic flight, and three hours for international travel. To save time, it’s suggested that travelers check in for their flights and print boarding passes prior to arriving at the airport.  Some airlines allow passengers to print luggage tags in advance. This saves time at the ticket counter.

Once travelers get to the airport, Sea-Tac and its partners in the Transportation Security Administration want to help you move through security checkpoints as quickly as possible. Enhanced security measures now in effect at Sea-Tac and airports nationwide require travelers to remove electronics larger than a cell phone from their carryon luggage. And while it’s okay to bring food with you, sometimes food items can slow down the screening process. Sea-Tac recommends that unless you plan on eating it in the airport or on your flight, consider packing food in your checked luggage.

Last week Sea-Tac Airport began its Central Terminal Renovation Project. When complete, there will be more than 10,000 additional square feet of dining and retail space, spectacular second-level restaurants, family-friendly seating as well as charging stations. During construction, the water bottle filling station in the Central Terminal has been removed. There are multiple filling stations throughout the airport, as well as 44 restaurants and coffee on every concourse. This map shows you where to grab a bite or satisfy your coffee fix.

For additional travel tips, click here.

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